Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 4

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 4

In the first two parts of this series of articles we explored the importance of having a mission statement (which provides the organization with a clear meaning and purpose), a vision statement (which provides personnel direction in the form of a mental picture of what the organization wants to achieve at some point in the future) and pointed out that the vision and mission statements need to be more than something just hanging on the walls of the office, printed in the organization’s literature, and talked about in new employee orientation.

For a mission statement to become a mission and for a vision statement to become a vision, it has to be implanted in the hearts of the organization’s employees and decisions must be made on the basis of whether the decision is consistent with the mission and will help the organization achieve its vision.

Since a vision statement is not a vision until there is buy-in from the organization’s employees, we also provided some methods of gaining buy-in from employees.

In part 3, we focused on another essential ingredient in the process of building or reshaping organizational culture – core values. Core values are the principles, beliefs and philosophy by which the organization operates. In that column, we also provided a process for identifying and/or creating organizational values.

This month we will wrap up our discussion on values by focusing on instilling them in the organization.

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 3

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 3

As noted in the title above this is the third part of a series of articles on building or reshaping organizational culture. In the first two parts, we discussed the importance of having a mission statement – which provides the organization with a clear meaning and purpose – and a vision statement – which provides

In the first two parts, we discussed the importance of having a mission statement – which provides the organization with a clear meaning and purpose – and a vision statement – which provides personnel direction in the form of a mental picture of what the organization wants to achieve at some point in the future.

We also pointed out that it is important that the vision statement must be more than just something that is on the walls of the office, in their organizational literature, and what they talk about in new employee orientation. For a vision statement to become a vision it has to be planted in the hearts of employees and decisions are made on the basis of whether what is decided will help the organization accomplish its vision. Since a vision statement is not a vision until there is buy-in from the organization’s employees, we also provided some methods of gaining buy-in from employees.

Since a vision statement is not a vision until there is buy-in from the organization’s employees, we also provided some methods of gaining buy-in from employees.
This month we want to focus on another essential ingredient in the process of building or reshaping organizational culture – core values. The mission and vision will take you nowhere if they are not connected to the actual values of your organization. When the vision and mission connect with the core values, they can provide guidelines for the winning behaviors and mindsets necessary to achieve the goals. Core values are what support the vision, shape the culture and reflect what an organization values. They are the essence of the organization’s identity – the principles, beliefs or philosophy of values. Many executives make the mistake of only focusing on the technical competencies of employees and often fail to focus on the underlying competencies that make their organization perform well – core values.

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 2

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 2

In last month’s article we defined the term “organizational culture” and introduced the first step in building or reshaping organizational culture which was to establish a mission which defines the organization’s purpose and provides meaning to the work employees do.

A reader of last month’s column suggested that it would be helpful to see some examples of good mission statements. As you read the mission statements below ask yourself does the statement tell what the organization does, for whom it does it and what the impact of doing it is? Is it written succinctly so that any employee could recite it upon request?

Google: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”

Amazon: “to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online”

At first glance, “to find” and “discover” might seem redundant. However, the language is purposeful because Amazon is hoping people might discover something that they were not looking for in the first place, but catches their interest while browsing.

Mel Brown and Associates: “to equip individuals and organizations to accomplish their visions, missions, and goals”

Every service Mel Brown and Associates provides (leadership development coaching, mentoring, training, organizational assessments, program evaluations, staff development, conducting management studies, contract monitoring, facilitation of processes for vision and mission development, policy and procedure development, and executive searches, strategic planning, etc.) is to equip our clients to accomplish their visions, missions and goals.

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 1

Building or Reshaping Organizational Culture Part 1

Within the last few months I have had a number of discussions with organizational executives in which the executive raised a question regarding vision and/or mission development, establishing core values, changing or creating an organizational culture, developing an effective employee performance appraisal system, enhancing employee accountability, or improving employee retention.

While the executives in each of these discussions was starting at a different focal point, in each conversation the executive’s overall focus was on how to improve the organizational environment to one in which employees were productively engaged in accomplishing the goals of the organization.

As a result of those discussions along with my observations during three recent projects in which we facilitated a vision and mission development process, conducted an organizational needs assessment and provided training on implementing an effective performance appraisal system, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to the readers of “Contemplation Corner” if I did a series of articles dealing with building or reshaping an organization’s culture.

Productive People

Productive People

Have you ever noticed that some the “busiest” people you know are often the least successful? Did you ever wonder why?
In my work as a leadership and organizational consultant, I interact with dozens of organizational executives each month. Some consistently set and achieve their goals while others seem to be in a constant state of struggle to get anything accomplished.
What I find interesting is that the executives who struggle the most seem to be the ones who are constantly talking about how “busy” they are. When I ask them what they are busy doing, their responses usually relate to dealing with urgent, unplanned situations, reacting to situations that are outside their control, or completing tasks that could be easily delegated to someone else in the organization. Yet, when they discuss the things they “have to do,” they sincerely believe that they “just can’t find the time” to work on the things they had planned to do or would like to do.

A Discussion Regarding Leadership

A Discussion Regarding Leadership

In discussions regarding leadership, the question is frequently asked, “Are leaders made or born?” When asked this question, I often quip, “Both. I have never met a leader who wasn’t born.” However, the truth of the matter is that I do not believe anyone is a “born leader.” I am a firm believer that leadership is not something innate, but learned.

Some people learn leadership at an early age because they were raised in a family that modeled good leadership. Other leaders were less fortunate and had to learn their leadership skills by other methods.

The obvious question then is “how does one learn to be a leader?” The answer is “the same way any other behavior is learned.” That being the case, let’s explore how leadership is actually learned.

Through Personal Experience

You can learn through trial and error. Former major league pitcher Vernon Law suggested “Experience is the best teacher because she gives the test first and the lessons afterwards.” Every leader learns through experience. Leadership is often going where no one has gone before and blazing the trail. That is part of what makes a leader a leader. In fact, one thing that makes a great leader is the ability to learn from one’s mistakes.

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Do you have the right people in place for change?

Do you have the right people in place for change?

People are Our Greatest Resource

Last month’s column was about dealing effectively with change. I discussed driving the change, selling the change and implementing the change. As I promised in that column, this month will focus on some of the personnel issues that must be addressed when we implement change.

While Human Resource Specialists point out that people are our greatest resource, and that is true, they can also be an organization’s greatest obstacles to the successful implementation of change.

Before implementing a change in strategy or in organizational culture, an organization’s leaders need to ensure they have the right people in place. Changing a deeply ingrained organizational culture requires keen assessment of a company’s employees, followed by prompt and aggressive action.

Research by The Hay Group, a world-wide human resources firm, has identified four types of employees based upon how they adapt to change. Those are the Superstars, the Open-minders, the Skeptics, and the Recalcitrant. Let’s look at each of these groups and how to deal with each of them.

The Superstars

Who are they?–The Superstars are the most desirable group. They “get it.” These people have internalized the organization’s vision and have the right behaviors and competencies for success. They deliver results in the right way. They create value and leverage themselves and others’ talents.

What should you do about this group?—Set this group up as examples of what the organization can be. Do whatever it takes to retain them. Reward them handsomely. Make sure they receive the most in the way of promotions, special assignments, etc.

The Open-Minders

Who are they? — Even though these employees may have under-performed in the past because of poor skills and weak competencies, they are ready to align themselves with the new culture and are eager to be part of the plan. They have the basic “raw material” and with development could be contributors. These are the ones who will really try, go along with and assume things will work until it is clearly demonstrated otherwise over time.

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Dealing with Change

Dealing with Change

Because readers have submitted questions regarding the issue of dealing with change, I have decided to respond to their questions in this column by rerunning, with a few major changes, a two-part series from a few years ago.

This month’s column will address “When It Is Time to Change” and October’s column will discuss “How Employees Adapt to Change and What to Do About It.”

When It Is Time to Change

I heard a story about a man attending a reunion who was shocked to see his old high school friend now had a peg leg, a hook in place of one of his hands and a patch over one of his eyes.

When he asked his old friend what had happened the friend told him that after finishing school he did what he always had dreamed of doing. He had become a pirate.

When asked about all the injuries he appeared to have suffered, the friend explained, “Well, like I said, I became a pirate and one day we were attacked by a British ship. As they fired upon us, one of the cannon balls caught me just below the knee and tore the lower part of my leg off. I knew that they would be boarding our ship and I would need to be able to stand up and fight so I took a piece of the broken mast and used a piece of the sail to tie it to my leg so I could stand up. It worked so well that when I got to shore I just had them make me a peg leg.”

When asked about the hook, the pirate explained, “Well, when they boarded our ship, I got into a sword fight and during the fight, I got my hand cut off. They left me lying there to die. I knew that I would need both hands to do what it took to man the ship and get it to shore. I took a piece of metal and tied it to the end of my arm so I could do what was necessary to save the ship. It worked so well that when I got to shore I just had them make me a permanent hook to use as a hand.”

When asked about his eye, the pirate explained, “The way to find land is to look for sea gulls because they do not go far from land. In my search I spotted a flock of seagulls and as I was looking up, one of them made a deposit in my eye.”

When his friend said, “but that would not put out your eye,” the pirate responded, “it would if you had not adjusted to having a hook for hand.” While the above story [MORE…]

What Is Followership?

What Is Followership?

In early 2014 while having a breakfast meeting with a colleague, he caught me quite off guard when he said to me, “you do a considerable amount of writing and training on various topics related to leadership. Have you ever considered writing or teaching something on ‘followership’?”

Quite frankly, to that point, not only had I not given much thought to the idea of writing an article or providing training on followership, the first thought that rushed through my mind when I heard the term was “What in the world is followership?” Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all successful leaders have good followers, and that might be a topic worth exploring.

As a result of that conversation, “Followership” was the topic for Contemplation Corner in the February, 2014 issue of The MBA Dispatch.

Since that time, I have spent time reading what others have to say about the topic and looking at how followers impact the effectiveness of organizations. As a result of that exploration the topic I selected for this month’s Contemplation Corner and this month’s “Worth the Time” column (which appears in the lower right hand corner of this page) is “Followership.”

What is Followership?

In his article, “Followership: The Other side of Leadership,” John S. McCallum points out “Followership is a straightforward concept. It is the ability to take direction well, to get in line behind a program, to be part of a team and to deliver on what is expected of you….How well the followers follow is probably just as important to enterprise success as how well the leaders lead.”*

Characteristics of Good Followers

McCullough identifies eight characteristics that good followers possess. He refers to them as: